Civic groups, foreign envoys stage joint campaign against N. Korea over 'enforced disappearance' of persons
By Chae Yun-hwan
SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) -- A group of nongovernmental organizations in South Korea and abroad condemned North Korea on Tuesday for its "systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced disappearance of persons from other countries."
During a press conference, joined by several foreign ambassadors in Seoul as well as a representative from a U.N. agency, they issued a joint declaration urging South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to establish "accountability measures" for relevant crimes committed by the North.
In the declaration, the organizations expressed their "deep concern that the DPRK government has engaged in the systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced disappearance of persons from other countries as a matter of state policy and creates large numbers of victims related to the Republic of Korea including South Korean abductees, prisoners of war and ethnic Korean displaced from Japan under the paradise on earth operation." The DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
They urged Pyongyang to confirm the fates and identities of South Koreans detained in the secretive nation due to its enforced disappearance crimes and their descendants.
They also called on South Korea to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
The envoys who joined the campaign were French Amb. Philippe Lefort, Argentine Amb. Alfredo Carlos Bascou, Dutch Amb. Joanne Doornewaard and British Amb. Colin James Crooks. Among other participants in the event held at the French envoy's official residence was Imesh Pokharel, representative ad interim of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul.
Almost 100,000 South Korean civilians were abducted by the North during the 1950-53 Korean War, while at least 516 South Koreans were taken after the war, according to the Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights.
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